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UWP Statement on Hurricane Preparedness Calls for Enactment of Environment and Natural Resource Management Bill

by: - June 11, 2020
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UWP PRESS RELEASE ON THE 2020 HURRICANE SEASON

(UWP) With the dawn of the 2020 Hurricane Season upon the Region generally and the Commonwealth of Dominica in particular, the citizenry is asked to reflect on recent experiences with Tropical Systems which tested the resilience of Dominicans. Lessons learnt from the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika 2015 and Hurricane Maria 2017 should place residents in good stead as we prepare to weather the 2020 Hurricane Season. This preparation is even more urgent with the current management of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In the short to medium term, The United Workers Party advises every resident to take seriously the threats posed by Tropical Systems. Citizens are exhorted to enhance preparation and prevention measures for the survival of themselves, families and the protection of their properties.

This year, preparation, prevention and recovery efforts may be severely compromised by social distancing concerns; access to local resources, as well as regional and international humanitarian aid and funding. Overcoming these challenges will require a unique approach to disaster planning and preparedness measures from the state, risk managers and the population; it is more than stocking up of supplies. Planning will require more space, extra accommodation to protect the public from spreading COVID-19 infection, for the need to safeguard communities will be of utmost necessity.

Virtual training and hosting of simulation exercises will be required to test State, community and individual communication and coordination systems. Immediate training of shelter managers and volunteers is needed, within districts, so as to be current on the maintenance of social distancing protocols. Needed also will be coordinated inspection of Hurricane Shelters to ascertain adequacy of space, supplies of water, installation of water tanks and fittings, additional soap, disinfectants and other cleaning agents, masks, gloves and an Isolation Unit within the Shelter Area to treat with possible COVID-19 cases.

However, it has become necessary to address Disaster Management in a more holistic manner so as to strengthen the country’s resilience to the threats posed to the people and the Dominican environment.

Parliament needs to urgently pass the Draft Environment and Natural Resource Management Bill which has been with the Dominican Cabinet for almost eight (8) years. The 2012 Low Carbon Climate Resilience Strategy envisioned specific resilience enhancing deliverables in:

  • Renewable Energy
  • Protection of Carbon sinks
  • Land Use planning
  • Natural ecosystems,
  • Forestry
  • Slope stabilization
  • Sea and river defenses
  • Water resources,
  • Agriculture, fisheries,
  • Tourism,
  • Coastal zones,
  • Infrastructure and human settlements

In 2015 Tropical Storm Erika flood damages were estimated at 100% of GDP and in 2017 226% of GDP was devastated by   winds and flood waters of Hurricane Maria. To date, we have not been able to explain that the amount of damage to the island, by these two disasters, was as a result of things that had to be done that were not done. Over 100 million dollars of climate change donor money was available. Still, questions linger; what exactly has been done and are we in a better position for this hurricane season?

The resilience we expected have not materialized because the Climate Resilience Initiative lacked philosophical or cultural moorings,  people consensus,  youth buy-in and through it all, the foundation principles of democratic governance were excluded from the leadership and management of national affairs.

In fact, the vast majority of climate resilient measures proposed in the Low Carbon Climate Resilient Strategy have not been implemented. Resilience to climate cannot be isolated from the overall resilience of the country to social and economic difficulties, manipulation of democracy, disharmony with the environment, disrespect for divine law and governance failures. A resilient country means a resilient people, united in purpose, working together – all for each and each for all – under resilient systems of democratic governance.

Resilient people mean people with resilient sources of food, clothing; resilient shelter; resilient means of livelihood. Resilient people are God fearing, independent and empowered people who take individual responsibility for their well-being and progress and commit to collective responsibility for national development and the advancement of global civilization. Only climate resilient Dominicans will create a climate resilient Dominica.

The United Workers Party further calls for  a greater focus on the skills, competencies and capacities that characterize a climate resilient Dominican; the tools that he/she must be armed with to withstand and/or bounce back when the misfortunes of climate strike.

By so doing, we will realize a Dominica which is sufficiently robust and prides itself as a nation whose people act with a deep sense of love and concern for their neighbours. We must guard against casting a blind eye on the anti-resilience conduct of those entrusted with the mandate to protect us. We call on every national to be proactive, innovative and resourceful within this season as our every endeavor should be to recover from past disasters and building back better

Our Nature Isle longs for the increased resilience of public infrastructure to natural disasters in order to boost investment by protecting private capital and the ability to produce, transport and export after a natural disaster. All of which could be obtained through the  bolstering of our construction codes and revised zoning procedures to enhance the resilience of public and private infrastructure as a matter of top priority

As a party which underscores the importance of national unity, the United Workers Party calls on every Dominican to heed every official advisory and prepare adequately in order to survive this Hurricane Season, where upon we can return to our persistent efforts at institutionalizing the concept of resiliency    in the course of becoming the best place to live, work and enjoy life.